What will you get out of it? Take an internship and find out yourself
Upon hearing the word, many college students think a wide range of thoughts, but one of the most prominent is probably, “what am I going to get out of this?” This question, which may be scorned by certain members of the adult community, especially professors and career professionals, is actually not nearly as silly a question as it may first appear.
There is undoubtedly a lot for students to consider when they are thinking about whether to apply for, or to accept an internship. They are time consuming, often taking up to two full days out of an already full schedule, and are increasingly unpaid or, if you’re lucky, simply underpaid. And if you decide to take the internship for school credit, it takes the place of another course, or, if you do it in the summer, you have to pay Seton Hall for the credit hours you could otherwise spend making money at a paid job or, if you’re lucky, traveling or simply laying on the beach.
In addition, there are the horror stories that circulate, almost as thought straight out of “The Devil Wears Prada.” Maybe you had a friend who spent 16 hours a week licking envelopes to mail out flyers, or a distant cousin who had to carry eight coffees at once through security, up two flights of stairs, and across a cubicle-filled floor without spilling a single drop.
Search internships in Twitter and you get an awful lot of two things: requests for interns and snarky comments about students who are beyond bored at their internships as they mindlessly file memos dating back to the years B.C, (before computers, obviously.)
But, your professors and advisers and basically everyone who tries to influence your life ever tells you really need one, it’s important for a resume, the networking possibilities are endless etc., etc. And, strangely enough, I am not bashing internships, but, instead, verifying this.
Over the summer I had a great opportunity to intern at The Star-Ledger, and got to work on the continuous news desk, doing basically what all the CND employees did, and learning all about the company along the way, in both formal and informal settings. I’d be lying if I said the fact that they pay their interns wasn’t helpful. Not only was it a great learning experience, but I was recently offered a part-time job there, and will begin working as an official employee of the newspaper very soon. So, as it turns out, that thing about networking is correct.
Internships can be horrific, but they can also be the best break you’ll ever get. I’d recommend doing one, but I would advise against going into it blind. Students should receive some compensation for their work, be it pay or school credit, and if you cannot afford to work for nothing, (essentially losing money on transportation,) don’t. But if you can afford to tighten your belt a little and have the room in your schedule, look for an internship that can provide an overview of the specifics of what you will be doing on a daily basis, and that none of those items include posting flyers or buying coffee.
If you know what you are getting yourself into, it can be easier to understand what you’ll get out of it, as well.
Caitlin Carroll is a senior journalism major from Mastic Beach, N.Y. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.